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Nearly 50 poor nations commit to 100% renewables by 2050

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Nearly 50 of the world’s most disadvantaged nations have pledged to fast-track their shift to 100 per cent renewable energy and to ratchet up emissions reductions, in a gesture that helped to close COP22 talks in Marrakech on a note of inspiration and determination.

Participants at the COP22 climate conference stage a public show of support for climate negotiations and Paris agreement, on the last day of the conference, in Marrakech, Morocco, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

In a statement issued in the final hours of the UN climate meeting, representatives from the 48-nation Climate Vulnerable Forum – a group of countries disproportionately affected by climate change – pledged to move to 100 per cent renewable energy generation between 2030 and 2050.

The plan, called the Marrakech Vision, promises that the Forum’s members will “strive to meet 100 per cent domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible, while working to end energy poverty and protect water and food security, taking into consideration national circumstances”.

The 48 countries – which include 5 Pacific Island nations and close neighbours to Australia Papua New Guinea and East Timor, as well as Afghanistan, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Guatemala – also agreed to update their national plans on cutting carbon before 2020 and to develop long-term plans as soon as possible.

The move was roundly hailed by COP22 delegates as both inspirational and ambitious – particularly in light of the reluctance of some of the world’s most advanced economies, like Australia, to set even 50 per cent renewable energy targets.

But for the countries in the CVF – among them the Philippines, where coal accounted for nearly 45 per cent of power generation in 2015 – it is simply what has to be done.

“We are pioneering the transformation towards 100 percent renewable energy, but we want other countries to follow in our footsteps in order to evade catastrophic impacts we are experiencing through hurricanes, flooding and droughts,” said Mattlan Zackhras, minister in assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands.

“We shouldn’t see it as a burden, but an opportunity,” said Bangladesh’s adviser at the forum, Saleemul Huq. “Climate vulnerable countries can seize those opportunities,” he said.

“We don’t know what countries are still waiting for to move towards net carbon neutrality and 100 per cent renewable energy,” said Coast Rica’s environment minister, Edgar Gutierrez. “All parties should start the transition, otherwise we will all suffer.”

And finally Salaheddine Mezouar, the president of the Marrakech climate summit and foreign minister for Morocco (Morocco is a member of the CVF) had a message more directly aimed at America’s president-elect, Donald Trump.

“We count on your pragmatism as well as your commitment to the spirit of the international community, in a huge struggle for our future, for the planet, for humanity and the dignity of millions and millions of people,” Mezouar said in response to a question at the summit’s final press conference.

“This is about what our planet is going to be tomorrow, and what we are going to leave behind.”

The members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum that have signed up to the agreement are: Afghanistan, Haïti, Philippines, Bangladesh, Honduras, Rwanda, Barbados, Kenya, Saint Lucia, Bhutan, Kiribati, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, South Sudan, Cambodia, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Comoros, Maldives, Sudan, Costa Rica, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mongolia, Timor-Leste, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Tuvalu, Fiji, Niger, Vanuatu, Ghana, Palau, Viet Nam, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Yemen, and Guatemala.  

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